cover image Mommy Go Away!

Mommy Go Away!

Lynne Jonell. Putnam Publishing Group, $12.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23001-1

In this swiftly moving tale, told and illustrated from a child's perspective, a boy turns the tables. ""Go away, Mommy!"" says young Christopher, after being ordered around one time too many. He then gets Mommy back by magically shrinking her until she fits on a toy boat and launches her into a sea of bath water to join other tiny mommies who need a lesson about how tough it is to be small. Jonell's debut picture book may be laugh-out-loud funny for children angry with a parent, but an underlying tone of mean-spiritedness lurks: Christopher cheerfully uses words he's so often heard as he sends Mommy away in a tippy boat with big waves, ""Have a good time! Remember your manners! Don't forget to brush your teeth! And no hitting the other mommies!"" Mathers (Kisses from Rosa) evokes the way children draw (whether children respond to pictures they could likely draw themselves is another question) in neatly squared-off crayon illustrations, one to every page: the characters have triangles for bodies, stick legs and enormous oval heads with pointy noses. She, too, joins in with visual gibes, whether depicting Christopher's glee at his one-upmanship or the expanse of bath water that confronts Mommy as she floats away. Although author and artist convincingly convey an everyday frustration of childhood (being told to do something unpleasant), they present the situation as an opportunity for revenge rather than one that invites discussion between parent and child. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)